Trent Water Quality Centre

Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario
What the facility does

Specialized environmental services, including method development, chemical analyses, research and training

Area(s) of Expertise

The Trent Water Quality Centre is a state-of-the-art mass spectrometry (MS) laboratory that specializes in method development and the application of new and innovative techniques for measuring isotopes and trace amounts of organic and inorganic contaminants in water, biological material, sediments, soils, fly ash, municipal waste waters, industrial by-products and process waters.

Research Services

Analysis of trace elements (e.g. As, Fe, Pb, Cd, Cu, Ni, Zn, U, REEs) in waters and solids by ICP-MS, metal(loid) speciation (e.g. As, Se, Cr) by HPLC- or ion chromatography-ICP-MS, stable and radiogenic isotope ratios (e.g. Si, Sr, Hg, U,Pb, Zn) by multicollector ICP-MS, organic-contaminant (e.g. estrogens, beta blockers, other PPCPs, PCBs, PFOA, PFOS, volatile fatty acids) and biotic metabolites determination by organic MS, stable isotope analysis (13C,15N,18O, deuterium) by continuous flow isotope ratio mass spectrometry (CF-IRMS), compound-specific isotope analysis using GC-CF-IRMS.

Sectors of Application
  • Agriculture, animal science and food
  • Chemical industries
  • Clean technology
  • Defense and security industries
  • Education
  • Energy (renewable and fossil)
  • Environmental technologies and related services
  • Fisheries and aquaculture
  • Forestry and forest-based industries
  • Life sciences, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment
  • Manufacturing and processing
  • Mining, minerals and metals
  • Utilities

Name of specialized lab

Name of equipment

Description of function

High-Precision Isotope Ratio Section

Thermo-Finnigan (Neptune) MC-ICP-MS

A high-resolution multi-collector ICP-MS, for high-precision (<0.001%) isotope ratio analyses of metal isotopes.


Nu Instruments Nu-Plasma-2

A next generation high-resolution multi-collector ICP-MS for high precision (RSD <0.001%) isotope ratio analysis of metals, for eg., Cd, Pb, Fe, Zn.


Nu Instruments Nu1700

A large scale high-resolution multi-collector ICP-MS, offering a no-compromise approach to achieve high mass resolution.


Two Micromass (Isoprime) Continuous Flow-Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometers (CF-IRMS’s)

For the analysis of δ13C, δ15N, δ18O and δ2H as well as %C and %N in all types of solid samples or in water.


Nu (Horizon) CF-IRMS

Coupled with a GC, the Horizon enables compound-specific isotope analyses that can be used for environmental forensics.

High-Sensitivity Elemental and Speciation Analysis Section

Varian (820) ICP-MS

Used for analyses requiring very low detection limits (ppt) and for integration with chromatographic separations, eg., Ra in water.


Nu (AttoM) HR-ICP-MS

A high-resolution (HR) magnetic sector ICP-MSused to analyze ultra-trace-level abundances (ppt and lower) of metals.


Thermo (XSeries-2) ICP-MS

A quadrupole ICP-MS with collision cell technology that is particularly useful for the detection of transition metals.


Teledyne Leeman  Prodigy-7 ICP-OES

Next generation dual-view optical ICP spectrometer used for elemental detection with concentrations ranging from ppb to %.

Organic and Organo-Metallic Molecular Analysis Section

Thermo (QExactive) Hybrid Orbitrap-Ion Trap HR LC-MS/MS

With a resolving power of 140K and mass accuracy of <1 ppm, the Orbitrap is used for quantitative/qualitative applications.


AB Sciex (QTrap 5500) LC-MS/MS

This hybrid triple quadrupole linear ion trap is used for quantitation of trace organic contaminants and targeted metabolomics.


Bruker (SolariX-XR) FTICR

Combines extreme resolution (up to 106) and high mass accuracy (<1 ppm) to determine empirical formulas of unknowns in complex samples

Preparatory and Separation Instrumentation

Dionex accelerated solvent extractor

Sartorius SE2 microbalance

Brooks Rand MERX automated MeHg analyzer

2 DSL (Delta Scientific Laboratory) sub-boiling stills

Ethos EX microwave extraction system

APEX and ARIDUS desolvators for sample introduction

Various separation techniques, including:

  • Capillary electrophoresis (CE)
  • Ion chromatography (IC)
  • Liquid chromatography (HPLC) and a preparative chromatography system
  • Hydride generation (HG)
  • Cameco Corp.